Posted by: Ed | August 20, 2008

“LOVE THE SINNER… HATE THE SIN”???

Several of us on this very blog & many more in conversations kind of summed up our churches conclusions on the issue of homosexuality & gay marriage with this common Christian maxim: “love the sinner/ hate the sin”.
I’d like to explore that a little.
From what I understand people in the gay community don’t particularly like this phrase. In fact they hate it. Whatever we are trying to say with that phrase is not getting through.
I understand what we who are Christ followers are trying to say with this phrase:
– We are trying to say – look we can’t approve of this behavior, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love you or even like you.
– We are trying to say, we don’t identify you & your worth as a person with behavior or lifestyle that we think the bible says misses the mark (is sin).
I get it!
But here’s the problem & here is where I think we might want to come up with a new phrase and perhaps stop using this one.
I find it easier to hate the sin in YOUR life than the sin that is in MY LIFE. I actually tend to like the sin in my life. That’s probably why it has been there as long as it has. Often the reason I hate the sin in your life more than in mine is that half the time, I don’t even see the sin in my life. Not because it’s not as bad but because like a person that has limped for so long that their back is out of whack, my sin has defined what is normal for me. It has become systemic. Also, I find that my sin has “real” reasons for being there or at least it has “real” reasons” for not being considered as evil as others might think if they knew all of it.
So if we keep using this phrase, we need to use it through Jesus’ speck / plank paradigm (see Matt 7:1-5). I love YOU fellow sinner. And I hate the sin… mine that is! I’m not sure why the sin that is in your life is there. I generally have no clue as to its extent or cause. So I am slow to judge. But I’m quick to see the plank in my own eye.
Perhaps I can start by asking God to help us be more repulsed by the sin in my life than the sin I see in others. We definitely need to run all conversations about other’s sin through plank / speck paradigm of Jesus. Maybe we can use our fingers – love the fellow sinner (pointing out)… Hate the sin… pointing back. Just a thought!

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Responses

  1. I like this blog entry, Ed as I find the phrase “love the sinner/hate the sin” somewhat condescending and hypocritical in nature. The language implies a type of hierarchal relationship in which the “sinner” is somehow inferior or less than and the speaker somehow without error or vulnerability. What you suggest as an alternative doesn’t alienate the other and causes all of us to search within our own hearts, thus taking our own inventory instead of someone else’s. This is good. Thank you.

  2. Totally love this new perspective of that phrase. Too many times we’re looking at other people’s sins and not realizing we’ve got *shtuff* that look just as bad to them. Thanks.

  3. Ed, this is a very insightful post. I heard Marko mention (in a journey podcast?) that he didn’t like this phrase, but he didn’t really explain why. I think your assessment of it makes sense. I’ve enjoyed your thinking on this issue b/c I tend to be one of those “just say it’s wrong and a sin” guys. But there may be a more tactful way to approach the issue.

    Also thanks for weighing in on the home school post on my blog. It has stirred up quite a conversation…

  4. Good Word Ed, you hit it right on the head.

  5. Love this post!

  6. As long as dealing with sin in the community is slow and marked by care, I’m with you, and I don’t think you probably mean to take this to the extreme and say that we can only ever point out sin in our own lives. Letting sin slide isn’t good for the sinner, the church, or the one observing the sin. (1 Cor. 5 comes to mind.)

  7. Love this post….but can’t stand the poster….. Is that right? ;-)

  8. “X” marks the spot. this is so “spot” on. Living on the outside of that world with my brother, until he died, many of us need to look inside long before we look anywhere else.

    BTW, I think you keep this a common focus in most of your talks, no matter what the subject at hand is. At least I always leave church knowing to fix me first.

  9. I truly like this- and kept help but wonder how it applies to my own life. I suppose that I am conscious of how others in my life make my sins more prevelant – and I am less tolerant of those people – but I don’t condemn them to hell – thats definatley not my job.


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